The Department of Veterans Affairs announced a new social media policy Tuesday, meant to promote the secure use of sites such as Facebook and YouTube by the department to better communicate with veterans.

“This isn’t about using social media because it’s cool or because it’s a fad,” the VA’s director of online communications Brandon Friedman said in a release announcing the policy. “It’s about getting the right information to the right veteran at the right time. This policy sets us on a path toward changing how we talk - and listen - to vets.”

Since it began launching social media sites in 2009, the VA has established over 100 Facebook pages, more than 50 Twitter feeds, aYouTube channel, a Flickr page and two blogs, including the well-regarded VAntage Point.

The new directive sets boundaries for the use of social media and calls for “open and transparent” communication with veterans.

VA employees are cautioned that when officially representing the Department, they “must reasonably ensure that the agency position on a topic is properly represented in all communications.”

They are also instructed to edit public comments that make disparaging comments or contain “unauthorized release of VA sensitive data.”

“Veterans should have consistent and convenient access to reliable VA information real time using social media -whether on a smartphone or a computer,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said in a statement.